Saturday, February 21, 2009

Becoming Light by Erica Jong

Becoming Light by Erica Jong is a collection of poems by an author who is notorious for writing a sexually scandalous novel published in the 60s. Apparently, based on what she has written in this collection, she is better known for her prose than she is for her poetry although poetry is her first love. But like many first loves, the relationship clearly hasn’t gone very far and most of her poetry is banal and boring. Although poetry is highly subjective, I can’t imagine most readers not finishing one of the poems in this collection and thinking, “I could have written that.” Frankly, most people could have. The images are not interesting or even inspired. Most have been written many times before to the point of being cliché and even Jong’s inevitable use of sex and sexuality is tedious. Perhaps when first published, some of these poems were shocking or even surprising for their content but shock value is not enough when the technique is just not there. In the end, Jong brings nothing new to the page which is what poetry should always do. Even the familiar should be surprising when it is shared in a poem.
Middle Aged Lovers I Unable to bear the uncertainty of the future, we consulted seers, mediums, stock market gurus, psychics who promised happiness on this or another planet, astrologers of love, seekers of the Holy Grail. Looking for certainty, we asked for promises, lover’s knots, pledges, rings, certificates, deeds of ownership, when it was always enough to let your hand pass over my body, your eyes find the depths of my own, and the wind pass over our faces as it will pass through our bones sooner than we think. The current is love, is poetry, the blood beat in the thighs, the electrical charge in the brain. Our long leap into the unknown began nearly a half century ago and is almost over. I think of the amphorae of stored honey at Paestum far out-lasting their Grecian eaters, or the furniture in a pharaoh’s tome on which no one sits. Trust the wind, my lover, and the water. They have the answers to all your questions and mine.

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